Senator Nelson's Accomplishments Against Domestic Violence
September 30, 2014
Major bills passed by Republican Senator Jane Nelson have strengthened penalties for repeat domestic offenders, provided more adequate protection for victims and those who assist them, and helped fund shelters. Senator Nelson has been honored by Denton County Friends of the Family, the Texas Council on Family Violence and the Battered Women's Foundation for her efforts.
Protective Orders: SB 129 (83rd) allows domestic violence victims to file protective orders in the county where the offense occurred. Before SB 129, protective orders could only be filed in the county in which the victim resides or the county in which the alleged offender resides. SB 130 (83rd) permits a prosecutor to represent a victim of domestic violence and file protective orders without conflict when the prosecutor has or is currently representing the Department of Family and Protective Services in a matter involving the victim, eliminating an unnecessary burden for many victims seeking protection. SB 789 (82nd, co-author) authorizes a court to render a protective order sufficient to protect the applicant and members of the applicant's family or household that is effective for a period that exceeds two years in certain circumstances. SB 68 (77th, co-author) enables individuals, who have had a continuous social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with an abusive partner, to apply for an order to protect the victim and the victim’s child. SB 50 (76th) extended duration of a protective order from one to two years to allow victims more time to rebuild their lives; also changes existing law that precluded extension of a protective order unless an additional act of violence was committed. SB 23 (76th) extended the duration of an emergency protective order from 31 to 61 days, allowing victims more time to petition for a permanent protective order.
Domestic Violence Lease Termination: SB 946 (83rd) expands protections provided by SB 1186 (Nelson 79R). Allows victims of stalking; attempted assault or abuse; indecency with a child; and sexual performance with a child to terminate their lease agreements under certain circumstances. SB 83 (81st) expands protections provided by SB 1186 (Nelson 79R). Allows a victim of domestic violence to terminate their lease - even when the perpetrator is not on the lease. Allows victims of non-intimate partner sexual assault (i.e. stranger or acquaintance rape) to terminate a lease when the assault took place at their home. Allows parents of child victims of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault or continuous abuse of a young child or children, if the assault took place on the premises in the preceding 6 months to terminate their lease. SB 1186 (79th) allows victims of domestic violence to break residential leases if certain dangerous circumstances occur.
New Offenses and Increased Penalties: SB 743 (83rd) creates an offense for continuous violation of a protective order. Offenders who violate a protective order two or more times in a twelve-month-period while the first violation is still pending in court would be subject to a third-degree felony under the bill. SB 82 (82nd) clarifies and strengthens state statute on stalking offenses. HB2240 (81st) creates the offense of continuous family violence. Provides that two or more family violence offenses occurring in a 12-month period can be aggregated into a continuous violence against the family offense, punishable as a third degree felony. (Two to 10 years in prison and an optional fine of up to $10,000). HB2066 (81st) (companion to Nelson's SB1324) ensures that domestic violence involving strangulation or suffocation is punished as a felony. Specifically, it makes the first instance of domestic violence strangulation punishable as a third degree felony, and makes domestic violence strangulation by a perpetrator previously convicted of domestic violence a second degree felony. SB 18 (77th) creates a criminal offense for intentionally interfering with emergency calls. SB 24 (76th) increased the penalty for a second assault on a family member from a Class A misdemeanor to third-degree felony, which carries jail time.
Battering Intervention and Prevention Program and Anger Management Courses: Texas Department of Criminal Justice Rider 51 in SB 1 (83rd) appropriates $1.25 million in new general revenue to restore funding for the Battering Intervention and Prevention Program to fiscal years 2010-11 levels. SB 44 (80th) raises standards for court-ordered services designed to reduce the prevalence of family violence. HB 2187 (76th) requires that court-ordered anger management courses for offenders meet state guidelines.
Crime Victims Acts Clean-Up: SB 745 (83rd) fixes typographical errors and clarifies ambiguous references in law relating to crime victims so that the Crime Victim's Compensation Act and Sexual Assault Prevention and Crisis Services Act can be carried out as intended.
Domestic Violence and Children: SB 434 (82nd) establishes a Task Force to examine the intersection of domestic violence and CPS cases. HB 1899 (78th) authorizes the court to protect a child from the risk of international abduction by a parent if a suit is presented to the court providing credible evidence of a potential risk. SB 140 (77th, co-author) allows for a rebuttal presumption that the appointment of a parent as sole managing conservator of a child is not in the best interest of the child if there is credible evidence of a history of abuse or family violence.
Probation Fees: SB 82 (81st) requires all domestic violence perpetrators to pay a $100 fee to local domestic violence centers as part of probation. SB 461 (76th) allows a judge to order, as a condition of probation, a domestic violence defendant to pay up to $100 to a shelter.
Bail: SB 56 (79th) protects victims of domestic violence by providing notice of bail reductions. HJR 23 (73rd) prohibits sexual and violent offenders who commit another crime while on parole from being released on bail while awaiting trial.
Victim Confidentiality: SB 1050 (78th) helps ensure any information that identifies domestic violence staff, board members, clients, or center locations is not disclosed by HHSC. SB 15 (77th) provides an exception under the Public Information Act for the locations of victim's shelters and sexual assault programs, along with personally identifiable information about program clients, employees, private donors, volunteers and board members. HB 865 (76th) allows a victim of domestic violence to obtain a change of driver’s license number to protect identity from the victim's attacker.
Victim's Immediate Safety: SB 176 (78th) changed the definition of an emergency to provide greater protection for family violence victims attempting to call for emergency assistance by enabling officers to take action before the victim is seriously injured. SB 588(76th) allows a judge to suspend a defendant's concealed handgun license in cases of family violence; SB 588 was passed as an amendment to another bill. SB 577 (76th) allows a magistrate to hold a domestic violence suspect up to 48 hours, the most likely period of retaliation, after the defendant has posted bond.